The Southern Times Narrative: Rendering the African story from an African perspective
The Southern Times is an instrument for mental decolonisation of the Southern African region and that vision must continue to drive the newspaper, Zimbabwean Deputy Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Supa Mandiwanzira, has said.
Addressing guests at the 10th anniversary of The Southern Times in Windhoek on Wednesday night, Mandiwanzira said the newspaper was established to complete the emancipation of the people in Southern Africa and the African continent at large.
“The Southern Times was launched as an instrument for mental decolonisation of Southern Africa, starting with our two immediate societies (Namibia and Zimbabwe). Its distinguishing feature was its Pan-African, Afro-centric, liberationist perspective. That vision must be the driver of The Southern Times and everything else that might grow out of the NamZim project,” he said.
Mandiwanzira said information had never been an innocent commodity while perspective had also never been an uncontested matter of fact.
“The world of communication had always been a world of power and dominance, a cacophony in which the trophy goes to the loudest, longest yell,” he said.
He told the gathering that the demonisation of Zimbabwe by the Western media was the best example of the media could be used as a lethal weapon to assaulting a people or nation.
Such use of the media by the powerful countries required the developing countries, which are independent minded to establish institutions such as The Southern Times to tell their stories from their own perspective.
“Ask us Zimbabweans who have been hurt before. The media are lethal weapon for assaulting a people, maligning a nation, quite often might’s way of subduing right.
“Much worse media are a precursor to physical aggression. After all, it is an age-old view that you give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Most independent-minded, resource-rich Third World countries are always eligible for hanging.”
Mandiwanzira said nobody in the world, however well-meaning they might be, knows African values and perspectives.
“We are the ones who know and should know. That means we are the ones who should narrativise those values, that perspective… that was the big idea behind the launch of The Southern Times to render our African story from an African perspective, informed by African values as evolved over time, as transformed by our respective struggles. This is a hotly contested narrative, a value system and perspective which shall always be challenged and undermined.”
Mandiwanzira cited the worry expressed by former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who a few years ago bemoaned the weak financial support to the stupendous US media apparatus in the wake of the aggressive rise of alternative sites of media opinion such as Al Jazeera, Russia Today and China Central Television (CCTV).
“Much worse, she felt US global cable networks like CNN were fiddling while Washington burned! We all know the awesome power of the US media. We all know the age of the US Nation-State. It is a superpower, until now the only one. It is a state dating back to the 18th century. Yet it feels that vulnerable, fretful about alternative media sites that propagate viewpoints and values contrary to, and questioning her own. Is that not revealing enough? Is that not instructive enough to us?”
He said the liberation struggle that Africa waged to free itself from colonialism had inserted into societies on the continent a freedom reflex, which is so inconvenient to imperialism.
“Imperialism should want that reflex expunged. Or at the very least to keep it enervated or weak and residual. Our aim is exactly the opposite. It is to keep that reflex ever sprite, ever active, ever ready and intervening. That is the struggle; that is the storm.”
He paid tribute to Namibian Founding President Sam Nujoma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for conceiving the idea of coming up with such a regional newspaper.